Sunday, October 27, 2013

Questioning My Fieldnotes #2

The second time I went to my field site I decided to go at night instead of going in the afternoon. I went to the Student Athlete Success Center on October 22nd at 6:50 pm.

What surprised me?

 The thing that surprised me the most was something that I noticed before, except this time something happened.  Before, I noticed that most of the people there sit in the cubicles and try to use their cell phones and this time someone got caught. When I was there these two boys were talking and the guy in charge went over to stop them from talking. After one had already left he dismissed the other one but he was standing right there. When he asked the boy what he was reading he also asked to look at the book and found his cell phone in the middle of the book. I have seen people use their cell phones, but they do it when no one is looking. This time he thought he was being sneaky, but because there were six of us it was very hard for something to not seem suspicious. This time this boy was not lucky and he is now not allowed to have his cell phone near him, it has to be up at the front desk and he has to sit at the tables in the front. Gail and the guy know that’s the reason so many cubicles are used each time so it’s like they’re giving us a first chance and then once you break that, you have to pay. The other thing I found surprising was the people at the cubicles on the right. They were not sitting next to each other. There was a cubicle between the two people on one side and a cubicle open between the two people on the other side. I’m not sure whether there were people there before that divided them, or they didn’t want to sit right next to each other so they put a cubicle in between themselves.

What intrigued me?

The easel there that had information intrigued me. Instead of giving information to all of the coaches, the information is displayed on the easel for the athletes to read. Before I left I read all of the information on it and it was about the times the athletes can go to Craig-Lee and input their classes and it had the times and dates of the community service days for the teams to complete. I found this a little weird because it asked for you to have things planned to do there so I questioned whether teams do this together or if the athletes do it on their own. Then I started to wonder how the fall athletes were supposed to plan their activities because the seasons are almost over for some teams. With these questions in mind I think these might be things I can interview Gail about to learn more about the community service that we have to do.

What disturbed me?

The only thing that disturbed me is the amount of activity that I found at study hall. When I went there it was 10 minutes before they close the doors and only one other person walked in after me. There were about 6 or 7 people and many of them left while I was taking my fieldnotes. Not a lot of things happened at study hall this time, which made think that maybe a lot of the athletes go home instead of staying which then made me think that many athletes could be commuters. Regardless if they are commuters or not it seemed like many athletes don’t want to spend time late at night at study hall.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

An Open Heart and An Open Mind: New Positions

In the beginning I focused my subculture with the athletes of Rhode Island College instead of focusing on the people in the Athletic Department.

Fixed Positions:

Now that I have focused on the people in the Athletic Department I do have biases. My age is something that is very different from the people who run the Athletic Department. I am much younger than them and I am the one that is able to play sports while I am at college right now. While some of them have played college sports, their eligibility years are over and that makes them unable to play at sport at a college now. My gender is something that I cannot change but it something that has made me see the world differently. I never had to go through hardships in life, fighting for the right to play sports as a woman, but at one time women were not allowed to play sports. Even today women playing sports is not ideal to men, but this makes me look at sports differently. In high school the Athletic Director clearly showed favorites in high school and I have brought that experience to RIC with me. I believe that the male directors here think that women’s sports are a waste and that they are a joke. When I study these people in their jobs I have this bias opinion that the Athletic Director hates women’s sports and it’s an idea that I have to release. While living in Coventry, I have been brought up without going through tough hardships. I was given the opportunity to play on many different teams and there I never really had to fight hard to make a team. As a player I never thought of how much work was put into these leagues and I always thought that their jobs were a joke, thinking that they didn’t really have to do much. I came to RIC with the same silly notion, not thinking deeper into things until I decided to choose RIC athletics. Since then I have decided to think a little deeper than just assuming their jobs were as easy as mine. While participating in sports I have been able to breeze by just by playing and I always assumed that the directors were just coaches on the teams and most were, but now that I am at RIC I can’t assume that all the directors were coaches, each person has a different story. The fact that I am white changes everything as well. White people have always been handed everything throughout the years and that provides a different experience for me. I have never actually had to really fight to be able to do something and that makes me bias. I have been able to walk through life so easily that its something I am bringing to RIC athletics with me. Not all of the directors are white though, so they have had different experiences, something I have never seen before. 

Subjective Positions:

By playing baseball at the age of six I was lucky enough to be able to play a sport and I never realized that not everyone has the same opportunity as I did. As the years went by I played for my high school and once again I never realized how lucky I was to start on my varsity tennis team my first year. My years of sports in high school shape the way I see the athletic department here. For one I believe that men’s teams are more highly regarded than women’s teams and I would love to learn more about this topic. The athletic department seemed like it was composed of two men who barely cared enough to show up to any of the sports and I came to RIC thinking once again no one cares about tennis. However since the start of this project this bias is slowly dwindling away. Many of the people I plan to interview from the athletic department take the time to go to the games to watch their players. Because of this experience so far at RIC, I have already begun to see that the biases I have brought from high school may not be true at this college.

Textual Positions:

The textual positions are much different now than they were before. As a student athlete I could relate to the other athletes but I have never been part of the athletic department. This is something new to me. Because I have never been a part of the department I don’t feel like a part and its something I have to adapt to. As I delve into my project I want to feel like one of them so that I am included in my work. In this way I will be written into my work and the subculture I am studied will be regarded in a well-respected manner. 

Analysis of the Digital Landscape

With a focus of Rhode Island College Athletic Department as my subculture, I decided to look at the other subcultures of different colleges and universities in New England. The colleges I looked at were New England College, University of Massachusetts, Connecticut College, and the University of Maine. From a quick glance all of the websites featured pictures of their athletes participating in the sports that they play. For the most part they are set up the same way with the navigation bar at the top of the page to display the different places you can visit throughout the website. The first thing I looked for was the Staff Directory because that is the subculture I am looking at. Like Rhode Island College’s website, there is a complete list of the staff that are in the athletic department. The one thing that all of the websites did was to allow you to click on the names of the people in the department so you can learn a little about them and their jobs, however Rhode Island College’s website does not allow you to do this. The only thing you learn from RIC’s website are the jobs of each person, their phone number and email.

In the different websites they use a lot of different words to say that their team won a game. Their insider language includes, “tops in”, “cruises/sails past”, “picks up victory”, “powers past”, and “edge out”. One phase that is insider language that people might not know is “...picks up huge conference win”. In college there are games that are conference and non-conference. Non-conference games are the games that don’t count for or against your record when it comes time for the play offs. Conference games are the most important because they will count for or against your record. To say that they “picked up a huge conference win” means that that win was crucial to their record and they most likely defeated a team that seemed to be a huge threat to them. A lot of teams I researched comply with the NCAA, which means they follow the same rules that Rhode Island College does. It is easy to say that these four websites share a common goal because each team aspires to win and triumph over every team in their conference.

The websites all display their athletes who greatly contributed to their wins and they all have their logo along with their team mascot.  In my opinion these things represent school pride. A lot of colleges and universities take pride in their athletic teams, and the athletes put in a great effort to bring honor to their school.

The websites are the colors of their school and there are bolded words as soon as you open the page. These words are either small blurbs of a victory for their team or a loss. These things stand out because they are right in the middle of the page and display information that catches your eye right from the start. The other words that are bolded are the places where you click and travel somewhere else on the webpage. The intended audiences of this page are the athletes that are pictured in the articles and even parents looking to see how their athletes did in the last game. Other people who view these websites are competing teams looking to see how they will match up in future games.

At a fist glance these teams look intimidating. The pictures of their athletes are fierce and ready to play for a win. The looks of the sites are simple yet they have things they want to draw your attention to and it works. The subculture of these sites however are not the people in the athletic department, it is the student athletes. They are the faces of the athletic department and they are still a subculture to be studied. The subculture is presented right away with pictures of athletes with captions such as leading the team to a win or playing hard and walking away with a loss. In the digital world the athletes get all the fame while the people in the athletic department get pushed to the side. Of course this does make sense because the athletes are the ones participating in these events not the directors. However, the directors are hidden in theses websites usually under the title Staff Directory. Here their names are listed, and some even include facts about themselves.

One thing that really stands out to me is that all of the websites I looked at were connected to social media. In a day and age where connection to the top sites are everything, connecting to social media allows easier access to the site and therefore a larger amount of people accessing the website. It is truly amazing how each of these different websites came from different states and yet for the most part, they look and work in the same ways. Each website clearly displays their teams and hidden deep inside is the subculture I am seeking, the athletic departments who allow these athletes to be given the fame they deserve.    

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Questioning My Fieldnotes

Every week for five hours since the start of school I have gone to The Student Athlete Success Center, and I'm so surprised at how much I have never noticed. 

It's amazing how I have spent so much time there and never realized simple details. When I was at The Student Athlete Success Center taking my field notes, I watched the people a lot but then I started to look around at my surroundings. The thing that surprised me the most was that the walls were painted the colors of RIC and I never realized it. Two walls are painted maroon and two are painted a yellowish   gold color. I couldn't believe how much time I had spent in this place and never realized something so simple that represented so much. When I told my teammates about what I noticed, they hadn't seen it either. This reminded of the video I watched in my writing class this year. It was a video of Dana Goia about Cultivating Your Own Sense of Place. In this video he talked about how most people go through life unaware of their surroundings, and for ever detail you don't take in you lose. This finding really made me look at every other detail I could find in that room. Another thing I noticed that surprised me was the amount of boys and girls there. At RIC there are more women's teams than there were men's so I assumed there would be more girls there than boys. However, that was not what I found when I was taking notes. For the amount of time I stayed, I recorded more guys than girls the entire time, which I found really odd. While I was counting all the people there I also counted the pictures they had of past athletes. I counted more women’s teams again, but surprising I didn’t see a picture for women’s golf, men and women’s track and field, and women’s swimming. I couldn’t believe how much I was unaware of.

The number one thing that intrigued me is the places that people sit while in study hall. When you walk in there are tables in the front, which nobody sits at unless they have to. For the time I was there, there were more people sitting at the cubicles because there you can sneak looks at your phone, look busy while not being busy and talk to your neighbors. I think its funny that people still try to hide and be sneaky even in college. I do understand from experience that sitting at the cubicles is better because it allows you to have your own space without someone sitting across from you and you can’t see things that distract you. While I was observing though, the cubicles were not used for those reasons. I watched people talk and use their cell phones; two rules broken in a matter of seconds. Although the cubicles give different pros to different people, it intrigued me to find that most people use the cubicles to use their phones and stare off into space.

The big thing that disturbed me was what I took my fieldnotes on. When I walked into study hall, I took notes on my surroundings and the student athletes there, but I didn’t take notes on the head people. I have few pieces of evidence about the head guy in charge and Gail. They are mentioned and I did observe them, but my first set of fieldnotes doesn’t really gather what they really do. On my second trip out into the field I would really like to focus more on Gail and what she does during a typical day in the Student Athlete Success Center.

 This set of fieldnotes were a great place to start for me and when I continue my notes the next time I would love to dig in deeper to find the culture of the place.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

An Open Heart and An Open Mind

With a love for athletics, there was no surprise that I chose to investigate the culture of the Rhode Island College Athletic Department. Although I have been playing sports for eight years, my experiences may alter the way I see my field site and the subculture.

When I first began playing sports I started with basketball. With no experience I played on the recreation team but after three years I had been a much better player than when I first started. That spring I played softball, the sport I will always hold dear to my heart. Although it was another recreation team, it was a sport I picked up very quickly. I started at left field my first year and my second year was when the magic began. With the glove my mom used when she played I felt like I had control over the entire game at my favorite spot, short stop. By the end of the seven years I came back from an injury but still played better than ever, and led my team to two championships. Now that I am at RIC and playing tennis on the team, I appreciate sports more than ever. I make up five percent of the population that plays sport and that is something to be thankful for. With sports being a huge part of my life examining the culture behind it makes me appreciate sports that much more.

The athletic population allows my fixed position to barely make a difference. The range of ethnicity is so diverse and it’s something I’ve already been used to seeing. My age, birthdate and race don’t affect how I see my field site and the culture. The way I see my field site is a group of talented athletes who do what they love, and its something I’ve grown up with.

There is one major subjective position that may affect my field site and that is my gender. From the beginning I have heard the notion of “girls can’t play sports” and that makes me want to complete this project even more. It is interesting to see however, that there are more female sports at Rhode Island College than there are male sports. In a way I believe that this subjective position might prove to my advantage because I have seen the world from a female’s perspective so I am not going in with the idea that females can’t play sports.  

As part of the five percent, I am included with the athletes. However I fear I may use they or them to describe the athletes from a third person point of view. In high school I have learned to not include myself in the work, but this project changes that way of thinking. Now that I get to include myself in my work I have to remember that I am part of my field site and I should include myself and the athletes in a form that doesn’t make my work feel distant.

As an athlete I am ready to go into my field site with an open mind and investigate the Athletic Department at Rhode Island College